Nothing is quite as scary as the idea of losing your mental abilities.
If you’ve ever seen a friend or loved one with Alzheimers Disease you know what I mean. The loss of memory, the ability to recognize people and think clearly is devastating. And with the Baby Boomer generation rapidly approaching retirement age, this concern is particularly relevant.
This is why more and more research is taking place these days to discover the causes, and more importantly effective treatments for preventing age-related mental decline. Fortunately for those of us who prefer natural methods of healing, this research extends into the realms of vitamins, minerals and herbs.
What Natural Supplements Can You Use to Support Your Brain?
Obviously the more we know about natural supplements that support brain health the better we will be in using them effectively. However a fair amount of study has already been done so we can have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn’t.
Here’s a list of some of the better tested and more effective individual supplements:
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids: You’ve heard about using fish oil for a variety of health issues, particularly inflammation. Its anti-inflammatory properties are impressive and no doubt support a healthy brain. But one of the components in it (DHA) also demonstrates brain protective activity. In the well-known Framingham Heart Study, participants who had greater intake of DHA had la ower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, compared with people who consume less DHA.
- Vinpocetine: Vinpocetine comes from the periwinkle plant. In Europe they’ve used this supplement for over two decades to treat cerebro-vascular disorders such as strokes as well as related symptoms. Experiments with vinpocetine indicate that it can dilate blood vessels, enhance circulation in the brain, improve oxygen use, increase red blood cells viability, and prevent sticky platelets. Vinpocetine is also an antioxidant. Some experiments also demonstrate a marked improvement in memory.You should be cautious however when starting this supplement since high doses of vinpocetine can cause the side effect of dizziness, weakness, and uneasy feeling. Although the commonly suggested daily dosage is 10 mg for each 50 pounds of body weight, it’s best to be cautious at the beginning. Spread the dose out over the day and avoid taking a 10 mg dosage unless you have first tried half of a 5 mg dose at a time.
- Alpha GPC (l-alpha-glyceryl-phosphorylcholine): GPC demonstrated significant improvements in Alzheimers patients in a multicenter controlled study. It also increased recovery in memory and thinking in post-stroke patients.
- B-6, B-12, Folic Acid: These three supplements help reduce the inflammatory substance, homocysteine. Reduced homocysteine levels go along with a dramatically reduced likelihood of a stroke or heart attack as well as decreased memory. You don’t need massive doses of these to be effective, but likely more than the government RDA.
- Acetyl-l Carnitine (ALC): Both l-Carnitine and ALC help support energy production in your cells. However, ALC crosses the blood-brain barrier more easily and thus is more specific for increasing available energy in the brain. Studies indicate this translates to improved mood, better memory and clearer thinking.
There are many more supplements that can help brain function, but the above are among my favorites both from personal experience and the experience of my patients.